College students struggle on history test





Students don't know much about history, and colleges aren't adding enough to their civic literacy, says a report out today.

The study from the non-profit Intercollegiate Studies Institute shows that less than half of college seniors knew that Yorktown was the battle that ended the American Revolution or that NATO was formed to resist Soviet expansion. Overall, freshmen averaged 50.4% on a wide-ranging civic literacy test; seniors averaged 54.2%, both failing scores if translated to grades.

"One of the things our research demonstrates conclusively is that an increase in what we call civic knowledge almost invariably leads to a use of that knowledge in a beneficial way," says Josiah Bunting, chairman of ISI's National Civic Literacy Board. "This is useful knowledge we are talking about."

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    Dalek S Wu - 9/23/2007

    50%? That is better than one would have expected from today's college kids. It has been a sine qua non for some time now that kids go to college to smoke pot, drink beer and then star in "Girls Gone Wild" videos.


    Craig Michael Loftin - 9/19/2007

    Is the test available on online?


    Clark Richards - 9/19/2007

    I earned a graduate degree and am passionate about history and education, so I couldn't wait to take the test. My result was 86 (52 0f 60 correct) A poor showing? Perhaps. I did learn a thing or two, actually eight and probably need to become more knowledgeable about economic issues, but other than that I found that it might be a great leap of logic to suggest that students at some of our premier institutions are really as weak in knowledge as the test would indicate. That everyone in America needs to dramatically improve their knowledge of history is a given and there is much evidence that would confirm that, however, I couldn't help but think that perhaps the test was more about the academics that prepared it than the actual results. Do they have an agenda to increase the number of social science courses required for graduation? Are they trying to highlight their knowledge? I'm not certain that their approach which denigrated the knowledge of students was appropriate. However, it looks like they succeeded as the headlines made their point. I wonder how many folks, other than the students, actually took the time to complete the test that was provided in the USA Today article.

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